First Day at Burke

I come to Columbia University Libraries this summer as a Career Enhancement Program Fellow. The program, administered by the Association of Research Libraries, offers library students from backgrounds underrepresented in the profession the opportunity to work and be mentored in a member library. This internship, coming as it does toward the end of my graduate studies at Simmons College, has already proved to be an invaluable experience.

My internship began three and a half weeks ago in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). While I was there, I worked with curators Karla Nielsen and Thai Jones on an analysis of the RBML’s collecting practices over the past five years. Gathering information from the RBML’s acquisitions and accessions databases, as well as its staff, I reported on any number of aspects of collections development at RBML, including the number of collections that were gifts or purchases, the formats present within those collections, and the collecting areas to which they contribute. The project gave me the chance to explore many of the RBML’s functions, as well as the digital and analog resources that document them.

Now I begin at the Burke Library, where for the next three and a half weeks I will assist Brigette Kamsler in processing the archives of the Union Theological Seminary. This project combines my interests in the archives of institutions of higher learning and in historical religious culture. The latter subject preoccupied me in my former career as a scholar of the nineteenth-century antislavery movement, which drew on evangelical organizations for support–financial, strategic, spiritual, or otherwise. I look forward to taking collections through the process of organization and description, and in such beautiful surroundings and with such agreeable colleagues!

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